01303 252 401
New Dover Road
Photo kindly supplied by the "Valiant Sailor" Nov 2011.
Above photo showing the main bar Nov 2011.
Above showing the restaurant area Nov 2011.
Above showing the pool area, Nov 2011.
Above photograph kindly supplied by Jan Pedersen, 1978.
Above two photos by Paul Skelton 15 Sept 2007.
Above photographs kindly supplied by Jan Pedersen, 1977
showing the lorry crashed into the then front porch of the pub which was
taken very shortly after the accident had happened.
Picture above by kind permission Valiant Sailor. Circa 1880.
Above photo circa 1900.
Originally called the "Jolly
Sailor" this pub changed name in 1822.
The Valiant Sailor is actually listed as being Folkestone, yet it is so
close to Capel-le-Ferne that I am going to list it as from that village.
Misleadingly, it was addressed as Hawkinge, Folkestone in the Post Office
Directory of 1913.
It is situated right at the top of Dover Hill, New Dover Road and Crete
Alfred Charles Aird had owned the Valiant Sailor public house and most of the land
between Capel and Sugar Loaf Hill on which he farmed. He also owned and ran,
with the aid of his wife, the Highcliffe Tea Gardens just behind the pub
where they served home made scones and ice-cream and cream teas. The cliff
path from East-Cliff was very popular with walkers from the Warren and the
rival establishment, Little Switzerland at the foot of the cliff path.
Alfred Aird also owned a dairy farm at Martello and supplied Miss de la Mare (head of St. Margaret's School, Folkestone) in
the early 1920s. His son Bill remembered riding on top of a hay wagon on
the spot which is now the entrance to the Channel Tunnel.
Although the Highcliffe Tea Gardens are no longer there, they were once
enclosed by a Hazel fence and contained three thatched summer houses along
with the tables and chairs amongst a series of rustic arbours.
Richard Kitham married Eleanor Kingsmill on 2 August 1841 at Alkham:
Richard Kitham, bachelor, groom of this parish son of Thomas Kitham,
Eleanor Kingsmill, spinster of this parish, daughter of John Kingsmill,
Wits: Susanna Finch, Marjery Kitham, Simon Horton Smith.
In the 1841 census of Church Alkham both Richard Kitham (25) and Elinor
(25) were listed as servants at the Rectory for William Slater, Lay
In 1845 Richard with Eleanor and their young family moved to Folkestone
Hill, Capel-le-Ferne. Richard was Licensed Victualler at the “Valiant Sailor”.
was still Victualler at the “Valiant Sailor” but was also a farmer of 40
An historic event that occurred in the summer of 1856 was the murder of
Caroline and Maria Back by a soldier of the Swiss Foreign Legion, Dedea
was stationed at Dover.
Caroline was reported to have spurned the
advances of the
Thomas Gurling reported the incident to Richard Kitham and
the bodies at Steddy Hole behind the “Valiant Sailor.”
was hanged in
Maidstone on New Years Day 1857.
The ballad of “Switzerland John”
whole sorry story.
Richard Kitham died in 1878 and was buried at Capel-le-Ferne. His wife
died in 1892 was buried with him.
In Loving memory of RICHARD KITHAM died May 24 1878 aged 66 years. Also ELEANOR wife of the above died January 10 1892 aged 80 years.
I know that my Redeemer liveth.
The widowed Eleanor continued to live in Folkestone and in both 1881 and
her unmarried son, Richard, an agricultural labourer/groom, and her
unmarried sister-in-law, Ann Kitham were living with her.
1 JANUARY 1856
In front of a large crowd, Dedea Redanies (26) was executed on top of
the porter’s lodge at Maidstone Gaol. He appeared little concerned,
approaching the scaffold with ‘a cheerful step’. Once there, he called
out: ‘In a few moments I shall be in the arms of my dear Caroline. I
care not for death.’
Redanies had murdered 21-year-old Caroline Back
along with her younger sister, Maria, one Sunday morning in August.
Perhaps she was having doubts about marrying the Serb mercenary, now a
member of the British-Swiss Legion, enlisted to fight alongside the
British against the Russians in the Crimea.
Recently, Redanies had had
doubts about her faithfulness and had become obsessively jealous. And
so, on the day before he committed his double murder, he bought himself
a knife with a 4-inch blade.
It was arranged that on this August Sunday
the soldier and the two girls would set off before dawn to walk the 10
miles from the Backs’ house in Albion Place, Dover, along the cliff-top
path to Folkestone. When at about seven o’clock they passed the "Royal
Oak", east of Capel-le-Ferne, the ostler thought they seemed very happy.
But the bodies of Caroline and Maria were discovered only two hours
later at Steddy Hole, a desolate spot, today called The Warren. They
were both dead from deep stab wounds to the chest.
But where was Redanies? The next day he was first spotted at Barham
Down. Later he called at a shop in Lower Hardres where he bought writing
paper and wrote two letters. In the afternoon, a policeman approached
him near Milton Chapel, outside Canterbury. The soldier took out a knife
and stabbed himself.
Redanies recovered slowly in St Augustine’s Gaol in Canterbury. He wrote
letters to the Back family, expressing his sorrow, and these suggest
that he was insane. Nevertheless, he was sentenced to hang. He said that
he looked forward to being reunited with Caroline and her sister.
Another letter to the Backs, to be opened after his death, read: ‘We are
above with our Father again... I greet you with my dear Caroline and
Maria... It was signed: ‘Caroline Back. Dedea Redanies, Maria Back.’
3, 1856 - Caroline and Maria Beck murdered in Folkestone
1857 - Tedea (Dedea?) Redanies hanged for the crime
I have seen several versions of the song "The Folkestone Murder", all
are very similar and tell the story of Dedea Redanies and his murder of
Caroline and Maria Beck.
The Folkestone Murder (sung by George
Spicer) (Roud 897)
(Recorded 12.11.59 at The Oak Tree, Ardingley)
Kind friends come pay attention and listen to my song
It is about a murder, it won't detain you long
'Twas near the town of Folkestone this shocking deed was done
Maria and sweet Caroline were murdered by Switzerland John.
He came unto their parents' house at nine o'clock one night
But little did poor Caroline think he owed her any spite.
"Will you walk with me, dear Caroline?" the murderer did say,
And she agreed to accompany him to Shorncliffe Camp next day.
Said the mother to the daughter "You'd better stay at home.
It is not fit for you to go with that young man alone.
You'd better take your sister to go along with you,
Then I have no objection, dear daughter, you may go."
Early next morning, before the break of day
Maria and sweet Caroline from Dover town did stray.
But before they reached to Folkestone the villain drew a knife,
Maria and sweet Caroline he took away their lives.
Down on the ground the sisters fell, all in their blooming years
For mercy cried, "We're innocent", their eyes were filled with tears.
He plunged the knife into their breasts, their lovely breasts so deep,
He robb'd them of their own sweet lives and left them there to sleep.
Three times he kissed their pale cold cheeks as they lay on the ground,
He took the capes from off their backs, for on him they were found.
He said "Farewell dear Caroline, your blood my hands have stained.
No more on earth shall I see you, but in heaven we'll meet again."
Early next morning their bodies they were found
At a lonely spot called Steady Hall, a-bleeding on the ground.
And if ever you go unto that spot, these letters you will find
Cut deeply in the grass so green: Maria and Caroline.
When the news it reached their parents' ears, they cried, "What shall we
Maria has been murdered, and lovely Caroline too"
They pulled and tore their old grey hair, in sorrow and in shame
And tears they rolled in torrents from their poor aged cheeks.
This murderer has been taken, his companions to him deny
And he is sent to Maidstone and is condemned to die
He said, "Farewell" to all his friends "In this world I am alone
And have to die for murder, far from my native home."
"The dismal bell is tolling, the scaffold I must prepare
I trust in heaven my soul shall rest and meet dear Caroline there.
Now all young man take warning from this sad fate of mine
To the memory of Maria Back and lovely Caroline."
A horrible song, it seems to me, with few redeeming graces - yet it has
seemed to be
well known, certainly among Travellers. Something of a shock, then, to
find only ten
instances noted in Roud... and five of these refer to George Spicer!
singers have been Mrs Coomber of Blackham, Sussex (noted by Anne
Gilchrist in 1906),
Charlie Bridger and Phoebe Smith's brother Charlie Scamp (both of Kent).
two entries are from Canada. But George Spicer's son Ron also recorded
it, in 1994,
on the cassette Steel Carpet (MATS 0010), and I remember Jack Smith, the
Surrey, based Traveller, singing it in the mid-sixties. Jack sang not
only this but
at least eight other songs, including four of Pop Maynard's, to be found
on this pair
According to Brian Matthews, 'Switzerland John' was Dedea Redanies, born
in the 1830s
in Belgrade. He came to England in 1855 and was enlisted into the
Legion stationed at Dover Castle. He became acquainted with a laundry
Back, whose husband was a dredger in Dover harbour.
During the summer of 1856, Redanies was courting the elder Back
On August 2nd he accused her of receiving attentions from a sergeant in
She denied this and he appeared satisfied. He proposed a walk over the
Shorncliffe Camp the following day. Mrs Back insisted that they be
Caroline's younger sister Maria. At Steddy's Hole, some five miles out,
Redanies was captured the following day at Milton Chapel Farm, Chartham,
Canterbury, after having tried to commit suicide. He was tried, found
hanged at Maidstone on New Year's Day 1857.
George claimed that his grandfather saw Redanies captured, and was most
about singing the song in public for fear of offending any relatives of
the Backs who
might be present.
From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday 15 February, 1867.
COUNTY POLICE COURT
Joseph Davis, who had been remanded from a previous day on a charge
of breaking into the house of William Fairbrass, and stealing therefrom
a great coat value 10s. was again brought up.
The evidence of the prosecutor and of Superintendent English had been
taken at the first examination.
That of the first wont to show that he was a labourer living in the
parish of Hougham. On Wednesday morning, January 30, about half-past six
he left his house to go to work, his wife and children being in bed.
Everything in the house when he left was right as far as he noticed. In
about an hour afterwards his wife sent for him and on going back to his
house he found that several things had been taken from it. The great
coat in question was one of the articles missed. The Superintendent, who
is stationed at Seabrook, said that on the day in question he received
information that several things had been taken from Mr. Fairbrass's
house. He made enquiries, and on Thursday morning, on coming through
Sandgate, he met the prisoner coming up the street. He was wearing the
coat produced and identified by Fairbrass. Witness said, "This is the
coat I have been looking for; where did you get it?" prisoner replied,
"I bought it." Witness then charged him with stealing it, and took him
Frederick Kitham now deposed: I live at the "Valiant Sailor," at the
top of Folkestone Hill. Last Wednesday week I was on the Dover Road,
about eight o'clock in the morning, when I saw the prisoner. When I
first saw him he appeared to have his coat off and to be in his shirt
sleeves. It was rather foggy at the time. There was a bend in the road;
and I lost sight of him for a little while; but when I saw him again he
had a brown coat on. He looked towards Dover, and then took up a coat
off the bank and went down the lane. When he came back he had the coat
on and was buttoning it up. The coat now produced by Superintendent
English is very much like it. He had two bundles in his hand, one tied
up in a red and white handkerchief and the other in a blue one. After
the prisoner had gone I looked and found the old coat now produced,
stuffed in a hole in the bank, close to where I had seen the prisoner
standing. I afterwards gave the coat to Superintendent English.
In cross-examination the prisoner witness said he had no doubt as to
This completed the case for the prosecution; and the prisoner, after
having had the usual caution read over to him, said nothing in his
The prisoner was then fully committed to take his trial at the next
Maidstone Sessions, instead of at Canterbury, on account of there being
a larger number of prisoner's then usual at St. Augustine's.
Three other charges were preferred against the prisoner, who was
accused of stealing clothes the property of Sergeant Tilley, Corporal
Seaton, and Private Elms.
It appeared from the evidence of Mrs. Tilley, wife of the first named
prosecutor, that she washed for her husband and the two other men. On
the 27th January her husband gave her white under flannel and a print
shirt belonging to himself, a pair of drawers belonging to Corporal
Seaton, and a night shirt of Private Elms. She washed them on the 29th,
and on the 31st hung them out to dry, about ten o'clock in the morning.
When she went, about three, to take them in, she missed them.
The prisoner was committed for trial on these charges also.
From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday 18
On Monday evening a sad trap accident occurred on Folkestone Hill, by
which Mrs. Aird, landlady of the "Valiant Sailor," was killed, her
husband and another occupant injured, and the horse killed.
From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday 30 April, 1926. Price 1½d.
BURGLARY AT THE VALIANT SAILOR
At the Seabrook Police Court on Friday last week, Andrew Benedict
Richards, of Chatham, who was charged on remand with breaking and
entering the “Valiant Sailor,” Hawkinge, near Folkestone, and stealing
five Masonic medals, a metal watch and a bunch of keys, valued £7 5s.,
was committed for trial at the Kent Assizes. The Magistrates adopted a
similar course in regard to two other charges of housebreaking at
Mr. A. C. Aird, of the “Valiant Sailor,” stated that on the night of the
14th inst. he made an inspection of the premises and found them all
secure. Just after six o’clock on the following morning, upon going
downstairs, he noticed that the dining room window was open and one pane
was broken near the catch. The room itself was in a state of great
disorder. There was an office adjoining the dining room and the door had
been locked. He unlocked the door and found that the window was open,
and a pane of glass near the catch was broken. The office was also in
great disorder. The front door was also unbolted. He missed nothing from
the dining room, but he found that five of his Masonic jewels (three
produced) and a gun metal watch, which had been kept in a drawer in his
desk, had gone. Later he missed a bunch of keys, some foreign coins, and
a small electric torch. He identified the three medals, whilst the keys
and watch were similar to those he had had. The value of the missing
articles was between £7 and £8.
Detective Constable Avory, stationed at Seabrook, deposed to examining
the last witness’s premises on the morning of the 15th inst. A room used
as an office had been entered by the window, which had a pane of glass
broken near the catch. The room had the appearance of having been
hurriedly searched. On the 18th inst. he saw the accused in Custody at
Chatham Police Station. When charged and cautioned Richards said, “Three
of the medals I gave to three men at Folkestone; I also gave one of them
the watch. I do not know who they were.” On the 20th he (witness)
recovered the watch at New Romney.
Miss Mary Green, of Chatham, said the prisoner was her brother, and on
the 15th inst. he gave her two medals, a tobacco pouch, a silver pen and
pencil, and a pair of gloves.
From the Dover Express, 13 May, 1970
£80 pub raid at Capel
Drinks and cigarettes worth £80 were stolen during the weekend from
the "Valiant Sailor" public house at the top of Dover Hill, Folkestone,
by raiders who got through a window.
Valiant Sailor business card 2007
From an email received 3 October 2009.
Thank you for an interesting resume of some history together with
photographs of the Valiant Sailor Inn, Capel le Ferne, which I found
particularly interesting as my grandmother Lilian Lizzie VIDLER was born
there in 1882 as per the copy of her birth certificate.
Her mother was Ann Elizabeth nee GIBSON of Elham,Kent and father was
Charles VIDLER born Brenzett,Romney Marsh, who as a single man in the
1881 census was employed by William AIRD, Innkeeper at the Valiant
Sailor and farmer of 175 acres, as a milkman.
By 1882 he had married and he was described as a milkman on both his
marriage certificate and again on the birth certificate of his daughter
Lilian, the following year. On the census record his surname is
erroneously transcribed as DIDLER.
By 1890, the VIDLER family were living at Sandgate,Folkestone, where
Charles was by now, employed by a man named KEELER as a carrier when in
October of that year whilst engaged in collecting rocks from the beach
at Sandgate with his horse and cart, he sadly was found drowned at the
waters edge early one morning, apparently the victim of an accident.
Lilian Lizzie VIDLER was eventually to marry my grandfather Walter
NICOLL at Elham in 1903, where he was employed as a groom at the East
Kent Hunt kennels at Elham where his father William NICOLL was huntsman.
since 1897. and when the mastership of the hunt changed in 1900, to
Harry SELBY-LOWNDES, William NICOLL was to become 1st Whipper in, as the
master took it upon himself to be the huntsman too and carried the horn.
I mention these subsequent events as during the 30 or so years tenure of
H SELBY-LOWNDES at the East Kent, he apparently instituted a tradition
of a hunt meet at the Warren, Capel le Ferne, each Easter Monday, when
around 2000 people would travel to see the huntsmen, members and hounds.
The old photo you have published appears to have at least a couple of
what look like fox hunters in the background, and I wondered if you
could give a better idea of the circa this was taken and if indeed it
was an occasion of a hunt meet there.
Thank you also for the more recent photographs of my grandmothers
I live in retirement in France but will be visiting Kent in November
and in particular The Valiant Sailor during this time, but if you can
tell me if any other old photographs of the Valiant Sailor exist from
around 1880 into the 20th century, and if so, and how and who I could
contact regarding gaining sight of such copies. I should be most
Yours Faithfully Ian William NICOLL.
Read follow up story at "Castle
KITHAM Richard 1845-May/78 dec'd
AIRD William 1881-1913+
AIRD Alfred Charles 1922-38+
reputed to have been there for 68 years.
KNIGHT John 1976+
HEARNE Steve 2007+
JACKSON Dennis 2011+
From Melville's Directory 1858
From the Post Office Directory 1862
From the Post Office Directory 1874
From the Post Office Directory 1882
From the Post Office Directory 1891
From the Kelly's Directory 1899
From the Post Office Directory 1903
From the Post Office Directory 1922
From the Kelly's Directory 1934
From the Post Office Directory 1938
From the Dover Express